Before You Buy a Sofa

Have you ever had a sofa that you were so embarrassed by it, that you didn’t want people coming to your house? I bet it wasn’t as bad as mine back in the early 90’s. Picture a brown, avocado green, PLAID, probably 1970’s sofa. That was my first sofa. I decided to cover it with a very large mauve (yes, I said mauve) blanket. Okay, so that wasn’t much better, but at least I was only dealing with one colour and no pattern. Thank goodness, we didn’t have facebook and digital photography back. No one needs to see that!

Okay, so maybe your sofa is not as bad, but you know it’s time to replace it. Before you go down to the furniture store and spend your hard-earned money, let me paint a picture for you. You and your significant other take a trip down to your local furniture store. Look at the size of that warehouse! Surely you can find something in this large showroom. After spending your afternoon looking at and sitting on dozens of sofas, and listening to the salesman go on and on how this particular sofa would be great for you, you finally decide you found the perfect one. It seems to be the right colour, the size looks right, and it’s comfortable. What more can a person want? The salesman writes up the order, runs your credit card, and informs you it will be delivered in a few days. Happy with your purchase you go home and wait for the day you can finally have a comfortable and attractive sofa in your living room.

A few days later the furniture truck rolls up to the house and has your brand-new sofa. They’ve even agreed to take your old sofa away. How’s that for service?! They unload the truck and start to bring your sofa in and that’s when things start to unravel. The sofa will NOT fit through the front door. Are you kidding?! It didn’t look that big in the showroom. But wait, the movers have an idea. They can go through the back gate, through your backyard, and through the sliding glass door. Brilliant! You can still have your sofa! Thank goodness you don’t live in a two-story apartment! After they unwrap the sofa and place it into position they quickly have you sign the receipt and off they go. As you shut the door and turn around to admire your beautiful sofa you realise something is not right. Is that really the colour you picked out? And it seems huge in this room, it doesn’t really go with the other pieces of furniture. Ugh! You just spent good money on something that doesn’t look anything like you thought it would. Should you take it back?  You’d then have to go through the whole process all over again.  This is actually a very common mistake, and to help I’ve given you five things to think about.


1. Poor-quality – This could be an entire blog post all its own, but let me go over the basics. The truth is most furniture stores do not sell high quality sofas. You need to go to a higher end store, or have it custom made. But, it’s worth it in the long run, because your sofa is going to last you 10+ years, instead of the average 3-4 years. The top-tier sofa’s will run you around $3,500.00 and up. The frame construction is from hard wood (either Maple or Oak). The coils should be 8-way hand tied coils. The middle-tier sofa will have a price range of $2,400 and up. At this level frames are probably made of 1 ¼ inch plywood, which provides a nice strong frame, and if they are using 8-way hand tied coils this is a very good sofa for the price. If they are using sinuous coils that’s when it steps down to the medium level. The bottom-tier sofa ranges from $700-$1400. Material is probably 1-inch plywood, or Poplar (which really you should stay away from). This level of furniture usually does not have coils, but instead a very quick webbing and the cushions are low-quality foam. You’d probably be better going to a second-hand store. If you don’t know how to tell because the salesman is throwing all these technical terms at you… try and pick up one end of the sofa. If you can do it pretty easily, walk away. You can read more about sofa quality here.

2. Too big or too small for the space – When you are in a large warehouse it’s really difficult to get a sense for how large or small the sofa is. You don’t have the right scaled room to be able to judge it correctly. As a designer, I draw up a floor plan that’s to-scale and make sure the furniture we are shopping for will fit in your space, not to mention through your front door.

3. Wrong style for the rest of the room – Sometimes it’s hard to know what your style is, but when you bring in another piece and place it next to your old furniture whether or not you know the “style” you can tell it’s not right. I look at the space as a whole. Yes, you can mix styles, but there is a way to do it correctly so it looks intentional instead of it looking like a tragic accident.

4. Wrong fabric or colour – This is different than style, because you can have the right style, but the color and fabric are completely wrong. If you have kids and pets, you are going to want a very durable fabric, and stain resistant. The colour is also important, even if it’s neutral because of the undertones in both the sofa and the room.

5. Incorrect dimensions – Will the people in the household be comfortable sitting on the new sofa? Do you have someone that is really tall? If you buy a sofa that’s too shallow their knees will be too far past the edge of the sofa. If you have someone that’s shorter, they might not be able to bend their knees at all. Now if you are like my friends, where the wife is 5’4” (with heals), and her husband is 6’4”, have the husband pick the sofa and the wife can pick out the chair, lol.

Of course, all of this can be avoided if you hire a designer. There is so much that goes into planning a room that we take into account, like the size, colour, dimensions, and style of your furniture as well as the size of the room it’s going into.

I hope these tips have helped, and if you decide you’d just rather hand it over to someone else give me a call. I’d love to help you with your next design project.

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